The New Mexico Public Schools Facilities Authority (NM-PSFA) manages the allocation of state public school facilities funding, and assists school districts and state-chartered charter schools in the planning, construction and maintenance of their facilities. Scale of overall operations includes 89 school districts and state-chartered charter schools made up of 795 separate schools with 4,700 buildings and approximately 60 million square feet of space. Schools are ranked in order of objectively-determined greatest facility needs, and funding is prioritized to projects at or near the top of the ranked list.
NM-PSFA’s weighted New Mexico Condition Index (wNMCI) is the metric by which all schools are compared relatively against each other. NM-PSFA takes into consideration facility condition, educational adequacy, and key priorities such as life, health and safety. This facilities assessment model, widely regarded as a national best practice, is the primary tool by which New Mexico allocates state capital funding to school facilities needs.
Because of the dynamic nature of the underlying data, the numerous wNMCI calculations, and the need to engage stakeholders in the process, creating a statewide list of facility needs ranked from greatest to least was a challenge for NM-PSFA. In 1999-2001, NM-PSFA initiated a statewide facilities condition assessment and created a database of all school facilities needs. The database was intended only as a simple facilities condition index (FCI) point-in-time system. Systems maintenance was difficult when changes took place in educational adequacy standards, population, repair costs, and facility condition, and when buildings needed to be added to the system — and these changes happened frequently.
Data entry errors were frequent, and poorly-designed system formulas failed to properly tabulate educational adequacy calculations. There were instances of duplication and triplication of deficiencies. Reporting capability was limited and reports were difficult to produce. There was no easy way to analyze data and scrutinize it for accuracy, making mistakes difficult to identify.
Providing understandable, actionable reports to schools also proved to be a challenge. The Executive Summary Report is crucial for stakeholder communication, providing detailed information about each school in the portfolio. However, the report lacked the required level of detail, confused stakeholders — and could take days to produce.
VFA Inc. was awarded the contract because it appeared best able to address NM-PSFA’s specific needs, to resolve the issues inherent in the current system, and to demonstrate a clear understanding of how to implement expected business practices and process improvements. In short, VFA best appeared to offer the
resources and the capability to add value to NM-PSFA’s mission on behalf of education in New Mexico.
Within four months, NM-PSFA’s facilities assessment application, based on VFA.facility capital planning and management software, was implemented and the old system was retired. The new system was configured and all data was migrated from the old system. Improved Executive Summary Reports for stakeholders were created. NM-PSFA also initiated use of VFA.auditor, a Web-based, self-assessment survey, to manage workflow and avoid redundant data.
The NM-PSFA decision support system readily identifies ranked priorities of schools and projects that need funding assistance. Within VFA.facility, reports can be run in minutes versus hours, allowing deficiencies in the facilities portfolio to be quickly and easily identified. The improved Executive Summary Report now provides all data and calculations for a particular school or district in a format that is easy to understand and interpret. NM-PSFA can create its facilities ranked list, based on accurate defensible data, in less than five minutes.
VFA.auditor provides NM-PSFA the ability to fully manage the workflow and to avoid double entry of data. NM-PSFA staff can now complete building surveys on their own and upload reliable, error-free data to the system, while creating and running their own building reports.
In initial results, The New Mexico Public Schools Facilities Authority has found that the system provided by VFA is meeting or exceeding the criteria established in its functional requirements criteria, and that the implementation process with VFA was smooth, professional, and rapid. VFA achieved all milestones and deliverables on time and on budget. NM-PSFA is confident that its new facilities assessment system will deliver a new and higher level of capability within its mission, while providing key policymakers and stakeholders with better, more actionable information as they partner with New Mexico’s communities in providing quality, sustainable school facilities for their students and educators.
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